Pollution Accountability in China

Declining prices for pollution monitoring equipment are leveling the PM 2.5 playing field in China.   To quote Sy Syms,  “an educated consumer is our best customer.”  An exciting research field in economics has documented the power of information and “report cards” in influencing individual choice and this in aggregate has public health consequences.  For the tough RBC crew, please read this paper on Los Angeles restaurant report cards and their impact on  public hygiene.    The narrow pursuit of self interest can yield progress!  In the LA case,  there is a synergy between government producing trusted information and private individual responses.  In the case of China, the government is not trusted to produce such information and the private sector has responded.  That’s adaptation!

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

2 thoughts on “Pollution Accountability in China”

  1. The news report does not bear out the idea that narrow self-interest is much in play in China, as opposed to an emerging civic consciousness. It also documents the role of the US Embassy, the World Bank and the WHO in raising awareness of the pollution issue at least among an educated elite in China.

    Here’s a project to develop really low-cost air pollution monitoring for $500 not $5,000.

  2. Well, I’ll certainly agree that Nanny State government regulations that drive the “job creators” berserk, like forcing restaurants to disclose health inspection scores to the public, reveals yet again that the right wing noise machine, aided and abetted by a pet stable of hacks for hire known as economists, ALWAYS gets it wrong, overstating the costs of regulation and understating the benefits. If that was your point, good for you for noticing.

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